Düsseldorf With the rising infection rates in numerous cities and districts in NRW, the number of measures to contain the coronavirus has also grown again. However, much of this is still unclear at present - an overview of the current situation.
How many regions and people are affected?
On Monday, around 5.4 million people in NRW were already living in one of the risk areas in the state. With just under 18 million inhabitants in NRW, that was almost one in three. According to the Robert Koch Institute, nine cities - including Cologne and Essen, and Düsseldorf in the evening - and two districts exceeded the important warning level of 50 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in seven days. In addition, the urban region of Aachen with 557,000 inhabitants reported a seven-day incidence of 51 new infections.
Why is a person from Cologne not allowed to travel to Stuttgart, but a person from Stuttgart is allowed to go on holiday to Cologne?
Both cities are risk areas. NRW head of government Armin Laschet (CDU) is not the only one who finds such a state of affairs absurd and wants to make it the subject of the Minister-Presidents' Round Table on Wednesday. Background: In the fight against the pandemic, the federal states can decide on restrictions largely on their own responsibility. A majority of the federal states have decided on a ban on accommodation for travellers from places with very high corona infection rates - unless they can present a negative corona test that is no more than 48 hours old. This obligation applies in Baden-Württemberg, but NRW has not taken this step. Anyone can still travel into NRW.
Who pays for the test?
According to the Westphalia-Lippe Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV), travellers from high-risk areas in Germany still have to pay for the test out of their own pockets. NRW Health Minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) had announced that these tests would be free of charge. However, according to the spokesperson of the health insurance association, it is not yet clear when this regulation will come into force. The KV Nordrhein, on the other hand, said that the Ministry of Health had issued a decree instructing cities and districts to allow citizens from hot-spot communities to have free tests for Sars-CoV-2 if they wish to travel within Germany during the autumn holidays.
Is a result feasible within 48 hours?
It is unclear whether people from regions with an over-50 population who want to travel during the autumn holidays, which have just begun, will get their results in time given the current rush to the test centres. "That depends on the capacity utilisation of the respective laboratory. Normally the results are available within 24 to 48 hours," says Vanessa Pudlo from KV. But there could be delays. If the result is placed on the hotel counter at the destination later than 48 hours after the test, it may, strictly speaking, the holiday may already be over already. This adds to the confusion: In some federal states, the date on the certificate is decisive for the 48-hour period, in others the test results may not be older than 48 hours.
Does the obligation to take the test also apply to cross-border commuters?
According to the NRW Corona Protection Ordinance, they must register once with the local health authority, as the Aachen city region, which borders on Belgium and the Netherlands, emphasised. This applies, for example, to people who often have to "cross the border for work, school, university or medical reasons".
What about private parties?
These had often proved to be selective hotspots. For example, Hamm - a few days ago the city temporarily had the highest "seven-day incidence" in Germany - had issued particularly strict rules. Then things got mixed up. In order to prevent a patchwork quilt Laschet wants, here - as well as in other areas - as far as possible, uniform national rules as a guideline. Soon weddings, baptisms or birthdays outside the house will be allowed with a maximum of 50 persons. But the exact starting time for this has not yet been announced. In municipalities that exceed the critical Ü-50 value, only a maximum of 25 guests are allowed to join in the celebrations in public spaces.
Is there already a closing hour?
In the largest city in NRW, Cologne, there is a ban on alcohol consumption in public places from 10 p.m. onwards. And on the weekends - from Friday from 8 p.m. to Monday at 6 a.m. - no alcohol may be sold at hotspots. Uncertainty was triggered by the plans of the NRW state government to introduce a curfew in cities with an incidence value of 50 and more because the decree did not arrive until Monday evening. There, the state government regulated that opening hours in restaurants and bars should be reduced, but did not name any concrete times, so that the cities can decide for themselves. After the limit value was exceeded, Düsseldorf imposed a closing hour for gastronomy from 1 a.m. until the next morning at 6 a.m.
What are the penalties?
Anyone who does not wear a mask in a supermarket in NRW, for example, has to pay a fine of 50 euros. On local public transport, 150 Euro are still due - without additional request. In a restaurant, it costs guests 250 Euro if they give a false name. Innkeepers must check the information for plausibility, but will not be penalised.
(Original text: dpa / Translation: Mareike Graepel)